How to Combat Social Anxiety?

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Social anxiety is a mental disorder that is often misunderstood and a lot of people could be suffering in silence.

It’s not just as simple as feeling shy or not wanting to engage in big groups. It involves intense fear of social situations, especially those that are unfamiliar or you feel you’re going to be watched.

For some, it can take control over their daily lives, such as talking to colleagues, going shopping, eating out, attending classes, going on dates and so on.

Eventually, these situations can become so frightening that you get anxious even thinking about them and go to great lengths to avoid them, disrupting your life in the process.

Luckily, there are a few small steps you can take to start feeling more comfortable in social settings. Here are our top 6 tips to overcome social anxiety.

1. Get Out There

The best way to get over mild to moderate social anxiety is to simply get yourself out there.

Agreed, it can be tempting to avoid social situations but the reality is, there’s never a better time to start than now. 

So, stop putting things off and start your journey towards overcoming social anxiety today.

Furthermore, accept that not every day will go to plan. Perfectionism and social anxiety go together like strawberries and cream. However, everything you say and do does not have to be perfect. Instead, make a strong point out of being imperfect and take a chance for the day.

Start by taking small steps and little changes. For example, challenge yourself to make small talk with the cashier next time you go shopping, or raise your hand during a class or meeting and ask a question.

Essentially, you need to make a conscious effort to be more social and face your fears – avoidance is not a tool to cope and it will not help your personal growth.

2. Focus on Breathing

Generally speaking, the physical symptoms of anxiety include an increase in heart rate, pounding chest, muscle tension and dizziness.

In all of these instances, it’s important to take a minute and slow down your breathing to help you gain control back of your body.

Where you can, take a seat and get comfortable. Then, take the biggest breath you can and hold it for 4 seconds before exhaling slowly. Keep doing this until you feel your breathing has come back down to it’s normal rate, and always remember that these symptoms are temporary and will pass.

3. Challenge Your Thoughts

There’s a good chance that you spend a lot of time thinking about negative outcomes if you attend a social situation.

Often people with social anxiety will worry about it accidentally saying the wrong thing or calling someone by the wrong name. Perhaps you’re worried you might trip over or spill something on yourself, or laugh or cough at the wrong time.

The truth is, these things happen at any time. Yes it may cause minor discomfort, but try to keep things in perspective.

Let’s say you have made a social blunder, that doesn’t mean that others are going to think badly of you.

So when you start to feel overwhelmed by anxious thoughts, try challenging these and replace them with more helpful ones through realistic thinking. 

4. Set Goals

You need more than just a vague idea of what you want to achieve in life.

From overcoming social anxiety to being the next big Hollywood star, it’s important to write your goals down on paper.

Because doing this makes it more real and measurable.

So the idea of goal setting is to decide where you want to end up, but also learning about and setting a benchmark of where you are now.

Then as you start working towards your goals, you may realise that you’ve started to get yourself out of a rut and see that you are a lot more outgoing than you used to.

Remember though, never compare yourself to others in terms of social success; focus on yourself and how you are doing week by week, month by month.

5. Congratulate Yourself

There are a lot of things you should feel proud about. Even the smallest of things like heading to the supermarket or going for a coffee should be celebrated. In fact, you can even feel proud that you even made it out of the house one morning.

Simply put, you need to recognise that you face more challenges than others and you should congratulate yourself on the little achievements you’ve made in your day-to-day life.

Over time, you can build on these small wins and start feeling better about going to social environments.

6. Say Yes

Maybe you’ve gotten into the habit of saying “no” to everything you get invited to.

But it’s time to start saying “yes”! If you’re invited to do something social, don’t turn it down and accept the invitation.

Now you may feel a little anxious at first, however over time, the more you attend social gatherings the less scared you will feel to go.

So, the next time someone at work asks you to join them for lunch or your neighbour invites you for dinner, make an effort to go.

The Takeaway

Now we’re not saying that overcoming social anxiety will be an easy ride; it’s a long journey and will take time for new neural pathways for social interactions to form.

With that in mind, if your social anxiety is constantly interfering with your day-to-day life, it may be worthwhile seeking professional help.

Whilst it may seem like an impossible task right now, taking small steps to combat social anxiety will help you live your life to the fullest.

Please contact us to find out more.

In the meantime, take a look at our Court of Protection solicitors page.

You may also like: 

1. Our Top 5 Tips for Coping with a Panic Attack

2. Our Top 5 Tips for Keeping Calm Under Pressure

3. Talking to Your Family About Your Mental Health